This week was National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, which provides an opportunity to share information and resources for all physicians to have at their fingertips. This is vital not only for each of us but also to support our colleagues and normalize conversations about our wellbeing … during traumatic experiences like this lingering pandemic, and every day.
One of my favorite resources is the Personal Crisis Management Plan for Physicians created with support from The Physicians Foundation. The one-page sheet can be used to reflect on personal warning signs and coping strategies, and to design a personal plan that includes specific resources and people to stay close to for both prevention and interventions, if that is ever needed.
I encourage all of us to fill out this simple worksheet as an opportunity for both reflection and planning. We can take it the next step by sharing the form with someone we trust and discussing the important topic of our mental health and support. Creating such a strategy is a proactive way to take care of our spiritual, emotional, and mental health while strengthening ties with people who know and care about us as people, beyond our professional roles.
Honoring Dr. Lorna Breen
The Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation has been raising awareness about the need to address, and not ignore, the mental health needs of physicians like Lorna Breen and other medical professionals. In this country, 300-400 physicians die by suicide each year. Alongside widespread ignorance and complacency about this intolerable reality, current laws only serve to compound the despair, anxiety, and hopelessness that leads to these tragedies.
This must not be allowed to go on; the time to act is now.
The Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation is helping educate the public and legislators about the impact of our healthcare crisis and the pandemic on the mental health of physicians. They also seek to destigmatize this issue by talking about it openly. Learn about Dr. Lorna Breen’s story here, and consider donating to their 2021 matching grant by following this link: Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation: Dedicated to Protecting the Wellbeing of Physicians and Health Care Professionals.
Other important resources to know and share include the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255) and the Physician Support Line (1-888-409-0141), where volunteer psychiatrists continue to support their physician colleagues during the pandemic. Sharing resources can also open lines of communication with our colleagues, staff, family, and friends to continue to raise awareness about our needs as human beings who happen to be physicians. Let’s all continue to work together to keep each other healthy, supported, and well during these trying times.
Colleague, thank you for all you do, and remember to be good to yourself!
For some inspiration and hope, follow the link to my latest ‘Moment of Wellness’ column for physicians published by the Florida Medical Association: The Sun Will Rise Again.